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Stubbing OAuth with Capybara

Posted 13 March 2012

Author Matt Darby

OAuth is great!

OAuth is a great tool that allows users to login to your site with another site's credentials. If you have a Facebook, Twitter, Google, Github, Foursquare, etc account and the application supports OAuth, you have one less password and account to maintain. I use Intridea's OmniAuth every chance I can. It's a great project, easy to use, and supports tons of sites.


One downside of using OAuth logins is when it comes to testing your application. Most applications scope content to the notion of the `current_user`, and therefore the tests expect that a User is mocked and "logged in". Usually this isn't much of an issue as most any authentication gem provides a way to programmatically log in a test User.

OAuth on the other hand uses an external login provider to authenticate you. Awesome for applying a fast authentication layer to your app, but each time a User logs in it needs to reach across the intertubes, process your credentials, and return to your app. Far too slow of a process for testing (and your tests shouldn't reach into external systems if you can help it).


The clear path here is to just take OAuth out of the equation while testing -- after all, we're testing your app, not the OAuth mechanism itself.

The Process

To stub out the OAuth process and log in a test User, we set and use a cookie while in test mode to log in the User. There are existing solutions to this issue on the web, but we quickly found out that Thoughtbot's Capybara-Webkit uses a different cookie handling process than the standard Capybara driver. This is a problem as we use Capybara-Webkit for our Cucumber scenarios that require javascript handling (which is pretty much all of them these days). Luckily though, Capybara exposes a `current_driver` method that allows us to differentiate the drivers at run time.


Create `features/steps/user_steps.rb` and add the following code. This Cucumber step will set up a "stub_user_id" cookie based on what Capybara driver we are using. You'll notice that Capybara-Webkit asks for a string in raw cookie format, whereas Capybara uses a hash structure for cookies.

Given /^"([^"]*)" is logged in$/ do |email|
  @current_user = Factory(:user, :email => email)


def log_in
  if Capybara.current_driver == :webkit
    page.driver.browser.set_cookie("stub_user_id=#{}; path=/; domain=")
    cookie_jar = Capybara.current_session.driver.browser.current_session.instance_variable_get(:@rack_mock_session).cookie_jar
    cookie_jar[:stub_user_id] =


In `app/controllers/application_controller.rb` add the below code. If we're in the Rails testing environment it will check for the "stub_user_id" cookie and bypass OAuth and login the test User.

before_filter :require_login
helper_method :current_user


if Rails.env.test?
  prepend_before_filter :stub_current_user

  def stub_current_user
    session[:user_id] = cookies[:stub_user_id] if cookies[:stub_user_id]

def require_login
  return true if request.fullpath =~ /auth/ #Allow omniauth to work

  if session[:user_id].present?
    redirect_to '/' unless request.fullpath == "/"

def current_user
  @current_user ||= User.find(session[:user_id]) if session[:user_id]


Usage is as simple as using the Cucumber step you created in the previous step.

Given "" is logged in

Gem Specifics

As technology moves ever so fast, here are the gems that we've used to make this all work:

  • Rails 3.2
  • Capybara 1.1.2
  • Capybara-Webkit: 0.9.0
  • Cucumber 1.1.4
  • Cucumber-rails 1.2.1

Wrapping Up

So there you have it; now you should be able to log in a test user with both Capybara and Capybara-Webkit in your Cucumber scenarios. This will go a long way towards speeding up your features! Happy Testing!